The first Amazon Prime Air flight being fueled in Des Moines (photo credit: Nicholas Ambrosecchia)
Amazon Air this week has begun operations at Des Moines International Airport, helping to expand same-day delivery for Prime members in the Hawkeye State as its cargo operations continue to spiderweb across the country, increasing Amazon’s independence from traditional air freight carriers.
The company ran its first flight into Des Moines at 3 a.m. on Tuesday, arriving from Fort Worth, TX, the Des Moines Register reported. The newspaper said the airport is leasing 8,052 square feet in an existing facility and 32,475 square feet of adjacent tarmac and storage to Amazon’s cargo hub contractor, Trego-Dugan Aviation.
In addition to the cargo hub, Amazon has been investing hundreds of millions of dollars on facilities in Des Moines and elsewhere in Iowa, the Register reported, including a fulfillment center near Iowa City in 2018, followed by construction of a 3-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Bondurant, IA the following year.
Since then, Amazon has opened four delivery, sortation and fulfillment centers in Iowa, with two more under construction, as the giant is blanketing the state with coverage for customers there. Nationwide, Amazon sprinters, stepvans and even box trucks for heavier goods have become as commonplace as UPS, FedEx and U.S. Postal Service vehicles in many areas.
On another front, Amazon next year will begin accepting payments on the popular, freemium Venmo platform owned by PayPal through a new partnership, enabling its 80 million users to select Venmo at checkout. Up until now, Amazon would only accept credit card or gift card payments. The moat deepens.
Meanwhile out west, Amazon is planning its largest fulfillment/sortation facility in the Bay area in the heart of San Francisco, a 650,000-square-foot facility that will serve as a same-day hub for the city. Residents had been expecting 1,000 units of housing, SFist reported, but instead will get their Prime orders faster.
The ecommerce giant also decided to fire the starting gun for peak holiday season in early October, roiling the industry with a raft of Black Friday-like deals.
According to MWPVL International, a logistics and supply chain consultancy in Montreal, Amazon has a total of 938 facilities in the U.S., totaling 302.6 million square feet, with 441 more being developed. These include fulfillment centers, sortation hubs, delivery centers (parcel and bulky), Amazon Pantry and Whole Foods DCs. Seventeen of them are Amazon Air hubs.